BEIJING AP — China's President Hu Jintao admonished his ruling Communist Party on Thursday to combat official corruption that has stoked public anger while urging colleagues to maintain firm political control, as he prepared to hand over power after a decade in office. Hu opened a weeklong party congress with a speech that cited many of the challenges China faces — a rich-poor gap, environmentally ruinous growth and imbalanced development between prosperous cities and a struggling countryside. Instead, the minute, wide-ranging speech gave Hu a chance to define his legacy and lay down policy markers for his successor, Vice President Xi Jinping, while marshaling his clout for the main event at the congress: the backroom politicking to install allies in the collective leadership Xi will lead. Always an occasion for divisive bargaining, the leadership transition has been fraught, buffeted by scandal and by the sinking economy that has fed public anger over a party increasingly seen as consumed by power and corruption. In recent months, one top leader, Bo Xilai, has been purged after his wife murdered a British businessman; a top aide to Hu was sidelined after his son crashed a Ferrari he shouldn't have been able to afford and foreign media reported that relatives of Xi and outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao had traded on their proximity to power to amass vast fortunes.
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